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Bullet Weight

For many casual shooters, the weight of the bullet doesn’t mean much. Yet, if you are reloading your own ammo, you’re more than just a casual shooter; or at least you should be. While there are many variables that go in to a load’s effectiveness, weight is definitely one of them. In fact, there are many calibers that function better with a certain weight of bullet and, if you tried to load a different weight, you would lose ground on your load. That’s why bullet weight should affect your choice of which bullet you use for loading.

However, not every bullet style or caliber will function great with the same weight. That’s why, instead of giving you a specific weight, we wanted to help inform you on why weight matters and how to choose the best weight for the caliber and shooting you will be doing.

How is bullet weight measured?

First, mainly for those beginners, let’s look at the measure of a bullet. Bullets are measured in grains. To give you an idea of how heavy a grain is, there are 7000 grains in a pound and 437.5 grains in an ounce. The lightest round on record is 15 grains while the heaviest, the .50 BMG bullet, weighs a whopping 750 grains.


Shooting styles versus Bullet Weights

While there are certain weights that work best for a caliber (such as the 9mm working best with either a 115, 124, or 147 grain bullet) you can definitely play around with loads and see which weight works best for you; after all, that’s why we reload, right? Yet, there are some shooting scenarios where bullet weight becomes more of a factor.


Plinking/ backyard shooting

This style of shooting is often done for its inexpensive excitement offered. Bullet weight doesn’t play much role; just do whatever is cheapest.


Accuracy Shooting

This is often those who shoot for competition. Bullet weight can drastically affect the accuracy, especially when you consider that most guns will operate better with a specific bullet weight. Finding the right weight for your gun, however, is only discovered with load experimentation.

When it comes to accuracy for the long shot, bullet weight can not only effect the distance travelled but also the speed. For instance, while a heavy bullet is less likely to be knocked off its course, it also won’t have the same velocity of a lighter bullet.


Self-Defense/Hunting

Why is this different than accuracy shooting? While accuracy is definitely a factor in these shooting styles, more so is the bullet’s ability to penetrate a live target. Finding the right bullet for this purpose is going to be by extensive testing, preferably through ballistics gel. Expansion and penetration are the key deciding factors on which weight to go with.


Shooting with a Suppressor

Not all bullet weights will allow you to shoot quietly with a silencer. For example, a .300BLK loaded with a 125-grain bullet will not be silenced, however the same round loaded with a 220-grain bullet will. Why? Because the .300 BLK powder charge will fire the lighter bullet at a faster velocity, in turn voiding any attempt at silencing.

The Truth is, bullet weight is only one factor out of many that will determine how effect your load is. Sometimes a change in bullet weight will yield the desired results. Other times, however, it will leave you with more questions than answers. In the end, trial and error is the best teacher in creating the perfect load.